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The front page diary entry on potential SCOTUS nominees raised concern about Sears:

Another new name on this list, Leah Ward Sears, is raising concern because of her strong support for "traditional" marriage, including a 2006 op-ed in WaPo lauding the work of the Institute for American Values, an organization founded by David Blankenhorn.

Wikipedia is your friend, and I don't understand how its productive to knee-jerk attack a potentially good progressive nominee based on one mis-step and poorly chosen association (did you know Obama lived in the same neighborhood as a radical hippie terrorist?)

Below the fold, some of her decisions-- she would be better than Kagan.

From Wikipedia:

First Amendment
Sears wrote a dissent in the case of Howard v. State (2000). The majority of the court rejected challenges based on right-to-privacy and first amendment considerations to a Georgia statute that criminalized the solicitation of sodomy. In her dissent, Justice Sears stated that she would have found the statute unconstitutional because it prohibited solicitation of legal (consensual; non-paid for) sodomy. Justice Sears saw this as a "content-based" speech restriction that could have no legitimate purpose because sodomy itself is legal.

So... we're attacking her for an op-ed, when she actually provided a dissent essentially defending gay rights.

Fourth Amendment
In Fox v. State (2000), Justice Sears held that the warrantless search of a probationer’s house by a police officer (as opposed to a probation officer) is unconstitutional.

A nominee on record supporting the 4th Amendment.  Important.

Sears wrote a dissent in the case of Reaves v. State (2008). The case involved the legitimacy of a warrant that authorized a search for evidence of murder and cruelty to children. Chief Justice Sears argued that the words "notes" and "papers", which were listed on the warrant as specific items that could be sought under its terms, "lacked sufficient detail to satisfy the particularity requirement of the Fourth Amendment."

Looks to me like a solidly progressive take on the 4th Amendment.

Sears wrote a dissent in LaFontaine v. State (1998). Justice Sears would have held an alcohol-check roadblock an unconstitutional search/seizure because, in her view, the particular roadblock allowed individual officers too much discretion -- "field officers had the discretion to control the time, the place, and the duration of the road block."

Again, a solidly progressive take.

Sixth Amendment
Sears dissented from the Gibson v. Turpin (1999). The majority held that, as with non-death cases, there is no federal or state constitutional right to state-appointed and funded counsel for habeas corpus proceedings for murderers sentenced to death. Justice Sears would have found that such a right to appointed counsel exists for habeas proceedings for capital defendants. Justice Sears stated: "The official taking of a human life is the ultimate government exercise of control and power over individual liberty. If it is to be done, it must be done cautiously, dispassionately, soberly, and fairly. And fundamental fairness demands that a condemned prisoner have the benefit of competent counsel [on habeas]."

Didn't this case just come up.  Sounds like she would have ruled just like Stevens.

Sears dissented from the majority opinion in the case of Wilson v. State(1999). Justice Sears argued that death by electrocution is unconstitutional and inconsistent with evolving standards of decency. Alternatively, she would have held the decision until the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue in a case it was then considering.
Justice Sears dissented from every death-by-electrocution decision until a majority of the Georgia Supreme Court declared it violated the Georgia Constitution in 2001.

 

This may even put her to the left of most nominees.

Greene v. State (1996). Justice Sears dissented in this capital case. She argued that the dismissal of several jurors who had "qualms" about the death penalty was incorrect. The United States Supreme Court unanimously agreed with Justice Sears and reversed, holding the majority applied an incorrect legal standard for juror dismissals.

Looks like she is for the most part about as good as we can expect, probably better than Kagan (who certainly is not where Sears is on the 4th Amendment).

Let's keep our eye on the ball here, folks, and not shoot ourselves in the foot.

Originally posted to jgkojak on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Saying soliciting sodomy isn't unconsitutional (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, wu ming, GiveNoQuarter, Benintn

    isn't the same as supporting gay rights/marriage. Gay people are not the only ones who participate in sodomy.

    •  Do you think Sears opposes gay rights/marriage? (0+ / 0-)

      And on what basis do you make that assertion?

      "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

      by Benintn on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:33:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know whether she does or not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Benintn

        I was just pointing out that saying banning Sodomy is unconstitutional does not equal "defending Gay Rights"

        •  Hope you'll keep researching (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bindle

          and let us all know what you find.

          We're both sick and tired of meta.

          And shitty SCOTUS nominees.

          "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

          by Benintn on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:41:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  From what I've heard (mind you I haven't done (0+ / 0-)

            extensive research) she's relatively liberal (except for that whole being friends with Clarence Thomas thing, who knows maybe having her on the Court would inspire him to go left? LOL). I have no beef with her, it was just the diarists assertion that the dissenting opinion proved she supports GLBT rights.

          •  The research is not going to be easy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GiveNoQuarter

            She pointedly avoided any discussion of gay marriage while sitting on the GASC.

            However, her approving citation of Blankenhorn's work does, as the front page said, "raise concern", especially in consideration of the fact that his pro-Prop-8 testimony started with the same principals she lauded before announcing that because biological-mother + biological-father marriages were so special, nothing that might possibly challenge their specialness, like gay marriage, should be allowed.

            In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

            by sullivanst on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 12:45:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I don't understand why we start here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GiveNoQuarter, Benintn

    This is where we started with health care, by throwing out the most logical option.  This isn't where the Republicans start -- certainly not on SCOTUS nominees.  They start with the long view on that issue.

    I want someone in that seat that makes me breathe easier.  Someone who will stand up to the lunatics that are packed on that bench.  Someone my young daughter can count on for protection. I want that person to be way more progressive than either Sears or Clinton.

    Why would we ever want Clinton in there?  Hell, if you want that kind of fight, might as well put in someone like Bernie Sanders.

    •  Do you think extremism begets extremism? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yella dawg

      My sense is that if we have a polarized SCOTUS, it will only serve to perpetuate the insane status quo that has developed since the Rehnquist court.

      I'm not so sure that Justice Sears is a bad pick or a centrist pick.  The fact that Sears recognizes - as did Moynihan and as others have done since - that social science research clearly demonstrates the positive benefits of a stable two-parent home for kids, does not mean that she's some kind of Bible-thumping wingnut.

      Would I prefer Kagan?  Yes.  There are many others I'd love to see.

      But we shouldn't judge Sears for her interpretation of Georgia state law, and extrapolate to assume that means she'd be a conservative or even a moderate on the SCOTUS.  Federal law is different from Georgia state law in many ways.  I think the precedents set by SCOTUS are different from precedents we see in Georgia Supreme Court.

      I also think Sears would sail through confirmation.

      "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

      by Benintn on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:33:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Extremism? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JR, GiveNoQuarter, Benintn

        I don't think progressives are extremists.  What our current SCOTUS looks like seems to me very extreme.

        And I understand wanting to sail through confirmation.  There's a lot on this administration's plate.  But I think this is where the real fight is.  

        Republicans own that court because they work to own it.  

      •  My reply above (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JR

        reads more stridently than I'd intended.

        This happens on the interwebz.

        I agree that a polarized court isn't, by any means, ideal.  But I also think that the court is very dangerously right-wing.  I am very worried about that, and very sad that the vibe I'm getting about the nomination is "Obama will probably replace the retiring justice with someone who isn't as liberal."

        •  Putting it another way: (0+ / 0-)

          Wouldn't Billy Brennan or Thurgood Marshall appear "extremist" in comparison to the current Bench?

          "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

          by JR on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 02:28:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I know very little about her (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xndem, greycat

    except that she's very good friends with Clarence Thomas:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    That might not necessarily be a bad thing, if she could persuade Thomas to change his mind on some cases.  On the other hand, it would be a bad thing if the reverse were to happen.

    •  Hope she's not a Coke drinker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GiveNoQuarter
    •  Thanks for the link. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yella dawg, regster, Theston

      That's a helpful article. It makes me think she would be a great pick. And if her presence occasionally reminded Thomas that he started life as a poor black child, that would be a bonus.

      "the human animal is well adapted to a great many different diets. The Western diet however, is not one of them." Michael Pollan

      by greycat on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:51:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I was thinking the same thing. (0+ / 0-)

      That might not necessarily be a bad thing, if she could persuade Thomas to change his mind on some cases.  On the other hand, it would be a bad thing if the reverse were to happen.

      That would be a very very bad thing if she started deciding cases like Thomas.

      Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both. --Eleanor Roosevelt

      by xndem on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 11:58:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting piece here on Sears, gay rights (5+ / 0-)

    http://rodonline.typepad.com/...

    Again, I don't claim to be a legal expert or an expert on gay rights in Georgia.  But I do know that the Christian Coalition in Georgia tried to hit against Sears and that she weathered that storm.

    "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

    by Benintn on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:39:54 AM PDT

  •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

    good info.  i didn't know much about her before.  

    save our democracy! freespeechforpeople.org

    by thoughtful3 on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 11:02:31 AM PDT

  •  She's not an intellectual heavyweight (0+ / 0-)
  •  tacky thought (0+ / 0-)

    Her nomination would be delicious irony and a smack in the face of TeaBaggers everywhere...

    --Mr. President, you have to earn my vote every day. Not take it for granted. --

    by chipoliwog on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 11:22:27 AM PDT

  •  thanks for this (0+ / 0-)

    good review of the cases

  •  So we should support her (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GiveNoQuarter

    because the rest of the GA supreme court is a bunch of irredeemable right-wing activist hacks who trample the constitution's plain language?

    Doesn't seem like a ringing endorsement.

    Similarly, "better than Kagan" is damning with faint praise.

    Also, equating favorably citing the work of IAV in an op-ed on the subject of encouraging marriage - and then accepting a fellowship there - is rather different to living in the same neighborhood as Bill Ayers. The arguments she put forward in the WaPo piece were basically a subset of the testimony Blankenhorn offered in support of Prop 8 at trial. While she has avoided talking about same-sex marriage, it is very hard to avoid the conclusion that she believes the priority in any treatment of marriage is to promote childbearing unions between biological mother and biological father.

    In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

    by sullivanst on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 12:40:34 PM PDT

  •  I can't help noticing (0+ / 0-)

    that the opinions the diarist favorably cites are almost all dissents.

    Indeed, almost all the cases Wikipedia cites are dissents, and none of its cites state that she authored a majority opinion.

    This concerns me. It suggests that she has not been successful in persuading others of the force of her arguments. Persuasiveness is going to be an important trait in the new Justice, since the aim is always to convince Kennedy to find the right way, especially given that it's Stevens retiring.

    In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

    by sullivanst on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 12:54:54 PM PDT

  •  I've met LWS a couple of times. (0+ / 0-)

    I was working a statewide race in GA when she was running for re-election.  I think it's important to remember that she was always a candidate among a very conservative electorate, and her stated views and associations should be viewed at least partly in that light.

    I do like the idea of nominating someone with electoral experience to the Bench (I think O'Connor was the last former elected official to serve).  I am not sold on Sears, however, even though she's the only short-lister I've personally met (albeit briefly).

    "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

    by JR on Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 02:32:06 PM PDT

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